If you missed the chance to attend the 2017 Wyoming Inventor’s Conference October 21 and ask about no-cost patent assistance then don’t worry, this post has you covered.
Getting a patent can be expensive; it is not unusual for the cost to run in the tens of thousands of dollars for a U.S. patent. The total cost of patenting includes attorney fees and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) filing fees and maintenance fees. It is wise to look for ways keep these cost to a minimum.
The first stop in your innovation process should be a visit with your local SBDC Network counselor who can help you explore the market potential for your innovation so you can decide if your business model requires patenting. Often being first to market is a more cost-effective strategy. Once you’ve explored the financial landscape and determined that patenting makes sense, there are several no-cost resources available to assist innovators with their patenting questions and the actual patenting process.
Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center (WTTRPC) – The University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Business Council partnered to offer no-cost intellectual property assistance to Wyoming individuals and small businesses at the Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center (WTTRPC). While the WTTRPC does not provide legal advice, the staff can answer your questions on patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets. The office employs law school interns to review invention disclosures from a patenting perspective using the USPTO Seven Step Strategy. Innovators can then use the results of this research to refine their ideas or decide that patenting and a visit to a patent agent or attorney is the next step. To learn more about the services of the WTTRPC visit their website, www.uwyo.edu/rpc.
Wyoming Patent & Trademark Resource Center – The Wyoming State Library is a USPTO designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center. The staff assists with general questions and provide guidance on the use of the patent and trademark resources including a designated workstation. http://library.wyo.gov/services/ptrc/ . At the Wyoming State Library, innovators are taught the USPTO Seven Step Strategy and provided the resources so they can do the research themselves.
Pro Bono Patent Program – The USPTO offers assistance to inventors or small businesses who have limited resources and need help applying for a patent for their invention. This pro-bono (“for free”) service provides an attorney to those qualified applicants with an income of three times the federal poverty levels or less. Residents of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming can apply for funding at MiCasa under their Pro Bono Patent program.
Law School Clinic Certification Program – In this program innovators work with law students through a law school clinic program. The law school students practice trademark and patent law under the strict supervision of a Law School Faculty Clinic Supervisor. While the University of Wyoming Law School does not participate, there are several law schools that welcome inquiries from all states. Specific services vary by state so check out the resources available.
Pro Se Assistance Program – While the USPTO always recommends innovators use a registered patent agent or attorney, they recognize that not everyone can afford a patent agent or attorney and therefore, comprehensive assistance is provided to those who decide to file patent applications on their own, i.e., pro se (“for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf”). This service includes dedicated personnel to assist applicants, in-person assistance at the USPTO Headquarters, support to connect applicants to resources and online resources.
Using these resources, innovators can make wise decisions on how to allocate their limited business resources while making the best strategic decisions regarding their intellectual property and innovations.